Every morning they would play Jenga in the Suzie bar, where they had spent every night before drinking Mekong whisky out of ice buckets laced with some syrupy sweet caffeine heavy tonic. The tuk-tuk drivers drank it too keep going, 30, 40, 50 hours or more, collecting the fares to send the money home to pay for their daughter’s education on the Laotian border. Their daughter would become a doctor or a teacher and not be lured to Bangkok with empty promises of modelling work, or housekeeping for the aristocracy, all too often the shiny promises turned out to be really black lies.
They were due to take the bus to Lao in a few days and so were really enjoying the last few nights, drinking with group of like minded drunken drugged up mentalist folk met previously on the beaches of Koh Chang, the trekking paths of the Annapurna, a mental 14 hour taxi ride to Anjuna with a mind control nut. Really fun times, but this time, this morning was different and threatened to completely curtail their plans. As the lads drank strong black coffee and lit their 5th cigarette since they had got to the bar only 30 minutes ago, conversation turned to what the hell happened the night before. They were a long way from home, 6 months of travel together but with a good few months of travel still ahead of them until one of them had drunk one too many whiskeys, one of them had bought a chunk of squiggly opium, and one of them had tripped down some stairs and ended up in an alley fallen down amongst the rubbish, trousers wet and black from the stinking putrified liquid oozing from the bins only a hundred metres or so from the hostel. He’d been unable to move, barely conscious and still in the clothes he had worn when he went out the night before, the space rocket on the Tin Tin t-shirt now stained beyond repair. He didn’t have his watch any more and more irritating he no longer had his wallet, no money, no credit card, no bogus press pass used in the Press club in Delhi many months before and no fags. He was skint apart from the one low denomination bank note he still had in his pocket.
The other one bought a round of ice cold lagers, the condensation racing downwards to the join the damp ring under the glass where the bargirl had placed it on the wooden bar top. The raised their glasses and chinked them, they both knew only one of them would be getting the bus to the border, the other would be waiting it out in the stinking dead air of the hostel room until he could change his flight back.
A sinking feeling.